Some businesses have non-compete clauses in their contracts which employees are required to adhere to for a certain period of time after they’ve stopped working for the company. This is to prevent unfair competition, when a former employee might have an edge by knowing some of his or her previous employer’s business secrets. Additionally, it can hurt the company if a former employee takes some of its clients away after he or she leaves the company and starts up a similar business nearby.
To violate a non-compete agreement opens the door for business litigation. Since business contracts are binding in Texas, if a former employee is found to have committed a breach of contract, there’s a good chance the court will rule against that individual.
Ackermann PR claims their former vice-president violated a non-compete agreement after he was terminated from the company. His contract stated he was not to perform PR work with 50 miles of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Nashville International Airport, and Knoxville, Tennessee for three years after ceasing to work for the company. However, Ackermann says the former VP was involved in PR work with at least three clients since he stopped working with them last year.
In 2011, the PR firm also sued their former EVP, saying he started his own PR firm using confidential information from the company and taking several of their own clients with him when he left.
There’s no mistaking the valuable knowledge a person can gain by working for a successful organization. This can certainly give someone the chance to start up his or her own business in the field later on. However, in the interests of being professional as well as avoiding business disputes, it’s always wise to honor the terms of a non-compete agreement.
Source: PRWeek, “Ackermann PR sues former employee over non-compete,” Brittaney Kiefer, April 18, 2013